AWARD-WINNING YACHTSMAN AASHIM MONGIA TELLS US THE TOP FIVE PLACES TO VISIT ON A CRUISER
Sportsman and businessman, Aashim Mongia was awarded the Arjuna Award for the sport of yachting by the Government of India, having represented his country at various Asian Games and world championships, winning several medals. He also currently serves as the President of the IMF (The Indian Marine Federation). Aashim’s highly respected within the global yachting industry. As a child, he grew up around boats; as an adult, after a short stint in the Indian navy, he started his own marine business in yacht management and boatyard repairs. His company is called West Coast Marine Yacht Services and it’s one of India’s leading international marine authorities. We spoke to Aashim to find out where are the most exclusive and best places to visit by boat in the world.
1. The Maldives
The Maldives is probably one of the best island nations in the world. It’s a small archipelagic island country in South Asia, situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean, with beautiful pristine beaches, private island resorts, unparalleled luxury living (redefined in terms of ambience and food) and outstanding marine life for those who love to experience diving and snorkelling – ideal for the adventurous traveller. You can also enjoy private dining experiences. It’s ideal for a romantic getaway because it gives you the privacy that you need to connect with your loved ones. All in all, it’s a great all-encompassing luxurious and intimate experience.
2. Lakshwadeep Islands, India
Unlike the Maldives, the Lakshwadeep Islands are more restrictive. They are not as well defined and developed so they attract those looking for a unique, off the beaten track experience. In fact, one needs to get a permit in order to go there. The islands are secluded and inhabited. Lakshadweep is a tropical archipelago of 36 atolls and coral reefs in the Laccadive Sea, off the coast of Kerala, India. Nature is at it’s very best, rustic and unspoiled. It’s a great place for diving and fishing. The islands are serene and pristine that you’re afraid that even your presence might taint it. Virgin sand carpets the edges of shores that are intermittently splashed by turquoise waters. Where merely lying inert on a hammock to look at the horizon becomes a surreal activity.
3. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
Exotic, beautiful and richly evocative of India’s colonial past, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are emerging on the yachting front as a must visit location for the traveller who is adventurous and forward-thinking. There’s lots of heritage and history here. It consists of two groups of islands made up of the summits of a submerged mountain range, from India’s most remote state, located in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. Touted as amongst the top three game fishing destinations in the world today; it’s perfect for those who like to go diving and fishing. Andaman and Nicobar immediately evoke images of crystal-clear waters, rainbow-hued reefs and lush tropical forests. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed beach vacation or an adventurous holiday – trekking, snorkelling and scuba diving – you’ll find that it has the charm of a holiday that’s far from the madding crowd, yet close enough to the comforts of civilisation.
4. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is an all-time favourite and a memorable place for experiences of a lifetime. It’s popular for its culture, annual events, attractions and weather. It’s an island with rainforests and mountains on the Andaman Sea, with some of Thailand’s most spectacular beaches. One may have heard a lot about this amazing destination from friends or family, but nothing prepares you for what it actually offers. To me, it’s the Asian riviera for beauty, history, food, nightlife, and a romantic getaway – all rolled into one. There is something for everyone, of all ages, depending on what enthrals you.
5. Myanmar & Pila Island
This is about 200 km from Phuket. It’s a travellers’ best kept secret that’s truly untouched by tourism. It’s probably the most beautiful place on Earth. The Mergui Archipelago is stunning, to say the least, and the island can be accessed only by boat or private yacht. It has the most serene location, far from the mainland and it will be untouched in the years to come by mass tourism. If someone is looking for an off the beaten track holiday, this is it!